Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birthday List!

Just when I thought I was getting good at blogging, I wait almost 2 weeks to post again. Dang it! Life just keeps catching up to me and the chores around the house seem to always beat out posting on my blog. I really should reevaluate my priorities.

My birthday is in about two months and my husband has been asking what I want. I find this interesting because he's really not a planner. In fact, he's told me, "Melissa, I am not a planner. I hate planning". Plus he usually finds some reason to be out of town on my birthday, resulting in me not getting my gift from him until about 2 weeks later. I think he's trying really hard this year to make up for his horrible gift last year. You see, I had started this garden in our backyard and mentioned at some point that we needed a watering can (or a hose) so I could actually water said garden. He took that as a hint and went out and bought me a watering can. To his credit, he did buy a galvanized steel one and then spray painted a M on it to personalize it a bit. However, the watering can leaked. Badly. And since it had already been spray painted, it couldn't be returned. Then he decided to "pair" this gift with my very own full size dirt shovel. Yup. A shovel. Just like this one.

I was pretty quick to point out that it would be useful when I needed to dig a hole to bury his body in for getting me such a horrible birthday gift and making me wait 2 weeks for it. So I think he's trying to make up for all that this year and trying really hard to plan ahead a little. Although he has already brought up the possibility of him being gone on my birthday again (this would make 3 years in a row, and we've only been together those 3 years).

I've been racking my brain for a few weeks now trying to come up with ideas, but I honestly can't think of much. Here's the list I have so far:

1. Workout clothes (I always like the cute stuff that costs 5 times more than anything I'm going to just sweat in should cost, so I think it makes for a good gift)

2. Running socks (Lame, I know. But the running socks I like are $9 per pair! In fact, I got Chase 2 pair for Valentines Day. We'll call it payback for the shovel incident.)

3. Spa treatments (The last good massage I had was on our honeymoon. It'll be pretty hard to top that since it was the best massage I've ever had, but I'm willing to try.)

4. A fancy-shmancy camera. I am very unhappy with the photo quality of my point and shoot cameras and am looking for something much nicer, more professional. However, I'm not sure if we can justify the cost of this right now. For some reason, taking pictures of food to post on my blog doesn't seem like a good enough reason to spend that kind of money.

Any other suggestions you think I should add to my list?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I won a prize!

Only 1 week left of Lent. I can honestly say that this Lenten season has been very successful. We have managed not to drink coffee or eat chocolate, despite a few almost slip ups where we forgot that the tasty treat we were about to partake was chocolate! Luckily we remembered before taking that first bite and our sacrifice for Lent lasted another day. I absolutely cannot wait until Sunday, when the hardest decision I'm going to have to make is whether to eat a piece of chocolate first or have a nice big cup of coffee. Plus, I can finally start baking with chocolate again! I have so many recipes I want to make.

On a brighter note, a few weeks ago I was a blog giveaway winner! We have some friends who love to cook together and started their own food blog, The Newlywed Chefs. Check them out! The recipes are delicious and the giveaways are awesome. Here was my prize. I can't wait to use them next week for baking!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Browsing one of my favorite food blogs a few weeks ago, I found THIS post. Of course I had to try the cinnamon leaves right away. I think I made them within a day of printing the recipe. I'm not going to share with you what a messy disaster my kitchen looked like during and after the process, but I will share a picture of the delicious outcome. I personally loved these because I could peel off slices at my leisure rather than having to get out a knife and cut into the bread. I've already decided to use this recipe to make cinnamon rolls too. If only we had more mornings to make all the breakfast recipes I've acquired.

In that same post was a link to Quinoa Mac and Cheese. This piqued my interest for three reasons:

1. Chase always tells me that he doesn't like mac and cheese, and I'm determined to find something he likes.
2. I've really been wanting to try quinoa but hadn't found that perfect recipe yet.
3. Chase and I are always looking for healthier alternatives to "soul food" type recipes.

That weekend we made a special trip to whole foods in search of quinoa and goat cheese gouda. I'm sure we could find quinoa at any grocery store, but it somehow seemed healthier buying it from whole foods. Plus, I've been looking for an excuse to buy something from those bulk containers where you measure yourself. I love this idea over buying a pre-packaged box. Despite our best efforts, we never did find the goat gouda, and ended up settling for a nice Havarti cheese instead. Obviously it was quite tasty because we decided to make it again tonight! This time we actually bought a small block of gouda at Wal-Mart (yes, we shop all extremes in this house, even the evil Wal-Mart).

You can check out the link for the full recipe, but here's a play-by-play of our cooking!

Saute 8 tablespoons of sunflower seeds in 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Add 8 cloves of minced garlic and saute another 2 minutes. (I do realize this sounds like a lot, I thought so too. Too be honest, I have only used about 4-5 cloves of garlic both times I made this, mostly because I'm lazy and got tired of prepping the garlic. Add to your own taste.)

Add the cooked Quinoa (1 cup uncooked expands to about 2-3 cups cooked) and 2 cups of Fresh Spinach. Saute until quinoa is warm and spinach starts to wilt.

Add 6 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until cheese melts.

We had big plans to grill some chicken tonight but it was raining and cold, so that plan was scrapped. Instead, we chose to enjoy our Quinoa Mac and Cheese with these sandwiches. Grilled turkey and muenster on focaccia. After tonight, this has become my new favorite sandwich. I want another one just thinking about it! So flavorful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Best Day Ever

The weather is gorgeous today. I honestly think this is the nicest April we've had in a long time. There have been a few storms and a few cooler days but Kansas City has been blessed with some very nice weather the past few weeks.

This morning I was reading that one of the local weathermen said this might be "the best day ever" in terms of weather. Of course I had to go out on my lunch break to check out what all the hype is about. On my lunch-time walk, I learned that the sun is shining (quite brightly), the temperature is a warm 75 degrees, and the breeze is just enough to keep you from getting hot. I also learned that there are about a hundred other things I'd rather be doing than going back to my desk to sit through some Oracle testing all afternoon.

Things I would rather be doing today than working:
1. Riding a bike
2. Going for a nice long run/walk (I'd start out jogging but I just can't run that long so I'd have to walk some of it!)
3. Laying on a blanket in a park
4. Yardwork (yes, I would rather do yard work. I really enjoy seeing the progress that is made)
5. Sitting on the back porch, beer in hand, watching my husband grill
6. Washing my car (it really needs it and today is the perfect day to break out the hose and bucket!)
7. Swinging on a swingset
8. Having a picnic
9. Playing horseshoes (We got a set as a wedding present. I can't wait to have a BBQ this summer to break them out)
10. Flying a kite (hmm, I should find out when the Kansas City Kite Festival is!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Cleaner Floor

It seems I got over zealous when I posted twice within 3 days last week. Somehow another week has passed with no entries. I guess I just haven’t had much to write about this past week. It was a pretty successful week as far as my to-do list goes. Although telling you all the things we did this week would probably bore you. Honestly, because it sort of bored me and I was the one doing it!

Yesterday was a busy day full of grocery shopping, yard work, and house work. When I finally sat down at about 8:30 to watch a little television, I saw a commercial for this.

Maybe it’s because I’m in spring cleaning mode, or because our broom is half broken and falls apart sometimes mid-sweep, or maybe it’s because I’m becoming more domestic each day (I am 6-months into being an old married woman after all) but this vacuum actually excited me. I want one. We have wood floors throughout most of our house and I’ve been very frustrated lately that no matter how often I sweep, they always seem to be covered in dust and crumbs. Where does all this come from? Sweeping is annoying as really I’m just pushing the dirt around. I think this vacuum could really do some good on my floors and keep my sanity at the same time. And Lord knows my husband would appreciate a little sanity around our house.

Plus, who wouldn’t love the versatility of this little guy, switching to a handheld with ease and all the extra attachments?

I also wouldn’t mind the DC26, although it seems slightly more bulky with a little less functionality. Alas, as expensive as Dyson vacuum’s are, I just can’t bring myself to buy it. At least not yet. For now I’ll keep dreaming of clean floors.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Oh the Possibilities!

I love ice cream. A lot. As a kid, I begged my parents to take us to Dairy Queen almost nightly. I clipped coupons for ice cream in hopes of convincing my parents they would get a good deal. I even put ice cream on my Christmas List, more than once. Its fine, I’m not ashamed.

Now that I’m all “grown up”, I’ve learned that my infatuation with ice cream is pretty much one sided. Ice cream does not love me nearly as much as I love it. It upsets my stomach and adds fat in places that I don’t really need help adding fat to. Don’t get me wrong, I still have not given up this obsession; I’m just learning to control it more. We very rarely buy ice cream at the grocery store because apparently it’s bad to eat a half gallon of ice cream in 1 or 2 sittings. And let’s face it, if I have a half gallon of ice cream at my house, I’m not going to stop with just one scoop. That would be insanity. No, if we are in the mood for ice cream, (and by “we”, I mean “me”, because my husband is never the one asking for ice cream), we go out to Sheridan’s or Coldstone or some other yummy place to get it.

Given my extreme sweet tooth when it comes to this frozen treat, you can imagine how much this article on one-ingredient ice cream caught my eye! I quickly found myself clicking on the link for answers. One ingredient? What could it be? I hope it’s something I have in my house all the time! I was extremely excited to find out that yes, this is something I have in my house almost all the time! And now I’m going to share it with you! (can you tell I’m excited by the number of exclamation points I’m using?)

One-Ingredient Ice Cream
Ingredient=1 Frozen Banana
Instructions: Blend in a food processor until it turns into the consistency of a soft serve ice cream. If put in the freezer afterwards, it will harden slightly to more of a true ice cream consistency.

What? A frozen banana? Yes! We have made this at least 3 times in the past few weeks and have learned a few tricks.
1. This works best if the banana is really frozen. We tried with bananas that had only been in the freezer a few hours and it did not turn out as well. Freeze the banana for at least 24 hours.

2. So I have to wait 24 hours for this if I’m in the mood for it? Not if you start keeping a constant supply of frozen bananas. We have a bowl in our freezer that we just keep adding bananas to when they start to brown. We’ve reduced waste and found a healthy way to beat those ice cream cravings.

3. Peel the banana before you freeze it. Frozen banana peels are nearly impossible to get off and you’ll probably get frostbite on your fingers trying. Your other option is to use a knife to just cut the whole peel off, but then you waste a little banana. You don’t want to waste even one bite of this delicious treat.

4. Keep blending. First the banana will just get chunky and chopped up. You may even have to take the lid off the food processor and move around the banana chunks a little to unclog them from the blades. But just keep the blades running and all of a sudden something magical happens and the consistency will completely transform! (Please note that we have not attempted this with a blender, only a food processor. I don’t know if the blender blades would cream the banana enough but let me know if you try!)

5. We use 3 ingredients. Okay, okay, so I know I told you it is 1 ingredient ice cream; and it’s perfectly tasty with that one stand-alone ingredient. However, if you want something truly delicious, add about a teaspoon of peanut butter and a few shakes of cinnamon to the food processer after you have blended the banana. Give the processer a few more times around to mix in the ingredients and voila! I promise you will not be disappointed.

We can’t wait for Lent to be over so we can experiment with adding chocolate syrup or chocolate chips to the “ice cream” too!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Springing into Progress

The start of spring. I will admit that I’m not usually a big fan of spring. Frankly, I just don’t really appreciate how unpredictable the weather is. It rains most of the time and the temperatures fluctuate like crazy. Like yesterday, it was 90 degrees here. 90 degrees! This morning on my way to work, it was 40 degrees, and the high today is only 54. What’s up with that Mother Nature? That being said, Spring was a welcome change this year after a very snowy and cold January and February. I’m so thankful I don’t have to wear my heavy coat everyday and carry around scarves and gloves everywhere I go. My purse just got about 5 lbs lighter. Plus, maybe I’ll finally have the motivation to get some stuff done that’s been on my list!

When I started January, I had 3 goals for this year.
1. Read at least 2 “classic” books. You know, stuff you would mostly read in a high school English Lit class. I didn’t really like to read in high school so taking an English Lit class faired only slightly better than taking Physics or Latin.
2. Run a 10k I realize I could finish a 10k right now, but I wouldn't be able to run the whole thing. This goal is to actually train for the 10k so I can finish it with a respectable time. At least, as respectable as a jogger with a 12 minute mile can have!
3. Find a church No, this is not a hide and seek game with churches. If it were, I would totally win because there are 2 churches at the entrance to our neighborhood! However, we are looking for a church to attend on Sunday mornings; and neither of those two churches are filling that role.

We are more than 3 months into the new year, ¼ of the way through, and here’s my progress.

1. I’m on page 42 of Little Women. Chase bought me this book for Christmas to help me achieve my goal. I read about 16 pages the first night and have only made it to page 42 in the past 3 months. Failure.
2. On a good day, I can run 2 miles. On a really good day, 2.5 miles. I’m not counting out this goal just yet though. Spring has just begun so I can finally get outside to run on a more consistent basis. I mean, who wants to distance run on a treadmill? It’s so boring! I usually last about a mile or so before I start playing with speeds and inclines every 1-2 minutes. I think I have gym ADD.
3. Chase and I have attended church twice in the past 3 months. Not a great record. And, unfortunately, neither of the two churches we attended will be the one we choose as our home church. We still have some on our list to check out, so hopefully we find somewhere we like!

How are you resolutions or goals going?